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Denver-area superintendents and Governor Polis detail plan for return to in-person learning

Education leaders say enhanced safety protocols are foundation of return to the classroom
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Posted at 9:55 PM, Dec 15, 2020
and last updated 2021-01-05 15:12:17-05

DENVER — On Tuesday, Governor Jared Polis, metro-area superintendents, and Denver Public Health officials said science affirms students can safely return to in-person learning with a plan for enhanced safety protocols.

The plan for a January return is part of Polis' Roadmap to In-Person Learning and according to Denver Public executive director, Bill Burman, the plan is a layered safety approach.

"This concept of what we called 'layered protection,' works. No single layer is adequate by itself but when we add them all up, they can provide a high degree of protection from transmission," said Burman.

Some of those "layers" include social distancing, symptom screening, masks, hand hygiene, and rapid evaluation - to include testing of those that have symptoms.

An ongoing partnership with COVIDCheck Colorado will continue free testing for teachers and now, students.

Mike Johnston, President and CEO of Gary Community Investments - the company that operates COVIDCheck Colorado - said the the testing will yield faster results.

"If you have a student that's been exposed, they can come on day five and get access [to a test] and by day seven, get results back," Johnston said.

Updated CDC guidelines will also allow teachers and students to return from quarantines, sooner.

"Students and staff will have the ability to test out of quarantine on day seven, this strategy will allow students and staff to safely return to class sooner," said outgoing Denver Public Schools Superintendent, Susana Cordova.

Some superintendents said they're also advocating for teachers to be vaccinated at the immediate start of Phase 2 or sooner.

Although, Polis said that Phase 1 must solely focus on those with a high fatality risk or high risk of exposure — people working directly with COVID-19 patients, and residents and staff at long-term care facilities